Conference to Gather Many Voices to Address Polarization in Society

  • Tuesday, Mar 27, 2018

Madison, Wis. (March 27, 2018) – Edgewood College welcomes the Common Bond Institute as co-host of Engaging the Other: The Power of Compassion.  This conference addresses the polarization around social and political issues in the United States and in our local communities.

The conference aims to promote a wider public dialogue to reduce and transform fear-based belief systems, negative stereotyping, polarization, hostility, and prejudice that lead to dehumanizing others.

“As a Catholic college in the Dominican tradition, the Edgewood College community is continuously engaged in the search for truth—and to do so in a spirit of compassion and partnership,” President Scott Flanagan. “At this societal moment of discord and division, there is perhaps no greater need than the desire and ability to conduct that search through dialogue. It is an honor for Edgewood College to host this conference in pursuit of the genuine dialogue necessary to create the just and compassionate world our mission calls us to build.”

The conference takes place Friday, April 13 through Sunday, April 15 on the campus of Edgewood College. Community members of all ages, including high school students, are invited to attend. Participants will find the experience is highly participatory and oriented to dialogue, deliberation, and action-planning. More information including registration is available at The conference is free, but registration is required.

“At a time when mounting polarization is the culprit, we’re working to achieve mutual understandings of both why and how we become polarized and create negative, adversarial images of ‘us and them,’ whether we’re looking across the globe or across the street,” Steve Olweean, Common Bond Institute Director, said. “Instead of assuming nefarious intentions, what is needed is recognizing common ground on fundamental needs and intentions, to then better understand and compassionately address honest differences in how we choose to go about meeting them.”

Nationally renowned facilitators representing the socio-political spectrum from “right” to “left” will guide opportunities for deep listening and compassionate dialogue, as well as practical action planning to increase civility in public discourse.

Conference facilitators include:

Bonnie Carroll, military veteran, 2015 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, former staffer in the Reagan and Bush White Houses, and founding president of Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS).

Farha Abbasi, founder, Muslim Mental Health Conference and the Mental Health First Responder Training for Faith and Community Leaders; Managing editor of the Journal of Muslim Mental Health; Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Michigan State University.

John Steiner, Bridge Alliance board member and trans-partisan activist.

Amanda Roman, Director of Learning, Conscious Capitalism; founding partner, Living Room Conversations; co-founder, Bridge Alliance.

About the Common Bond Institute
The Common Bond Institute is a non-governmental organization that focuses on increasing skills and services locally to promote social healing and conflict transformation, exploring human consciousness and relationship dynamics, and expanding public dialogue and awareness of critical issues. Since 1990 CBI has been organizing and sponsoring numerous international, inter-disciplinary conferences, professional training and treatment programs for local capacity building in human services and civil society in developing societies that are regions of conflict, and related research.